GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 12: John Henson #31 of the North Carolina Tar Heels claps during overtime against the Clemson Tigers in the semifinals of the 2011 ACC men's basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 12, 2011 in Greensboro, North Carolina. North Carolina won 92-87 in overtime. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
With the 5th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Kings select North Carolina Forward John Henson. With MKG, Barnes and Thomas Robinson all taken ahead, the Kings choose to go with Henson over Bradley Beal because they really like the fit next to DeMarcus Cousins.
Henson has a good understanding for the game, but his body is very underdeveloped for an NBA big man. The teams main priority with Henson is for him to put on some weight and get to work straight away with Clifford Ray.
Despite the fact that he weighs less than Tyreke Evans, Henson is still able to make an impact on the floor thanks to his incredible timing on blocking shots as well as his terrific rebounding ability. Henson makes good use of his length to snatch boards away, but is not as good a rebounder as he was in college thanks to the fact that he can't box out the bigger NBA players as effectively.
Henson shows flashes of being a very solid defender as a rookie, but most of that comes from weakside help. Individually, Henson has a tough time battling in the post against bigger defenders. He's actually much more comfortable guarding bigs that stay out on the perimeter, but that negates his shotblocking a bit.
Henson works best when paired with a big man who can be a scoring focus, particularly someone like DeMarcus Cousins or even Jason Thompson. However, that doesn't stop the Kings from playing him a lot of the time with Chuck Hayes, which while decently strong defensively, is an offensive black hole.
Henson's offense is rather limited outside of 10 feet, but he excels as a finisher around the hoop, a benefit when his defender sags off of him to help on DeMarcus Cousins.
By the end of his rookie year, Kings fans have mixed feelings on Henson. There is clear value in his defense, but there are legitimate questions on whether or not he can put on enough weight and develop enough of an offensive game to be a starter long term next to Cousins. It also doesn't help that Bradley Beal, taken 6th by the Blazers, is performing very well.
In the long run, the Kings made a very safe pick for a very serviceable player. Henson was a good fit, and a good need, but he wasn't anything special. In the end, there were players available that ended up much better, as well as much worse. A couple of players that the Kings passed because of fit, Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard, eventually became All-Stars. A few that they passed on (notably Andre Drummond) became big busts. In the end, the pick led the team to more wins and more success, maybe not as many wins or as much success as some had hoped, but hey, it's better than getting worse right?